France’s foreign minister has been continuing his surprise trip to Iraq, holding talks with President Jalal Talibani, who has described the visit as “historic”. Bernard Kouchner is the first French minister to visit the country since the 2003 US-led invasion, which Paris fiercely opposed.
Kouchner admitted France had not always agreed with what had gone on in Iraq since then, and that France had made its position clear on that. “But,” he continued, “That page is behind us. I wouldn’t say we don’t remember it, I wouldn’t say there wasn’t antagonism, but now let’s look to the future.”
For the present, the bloodshed continues. A provincial governor has been killed in a roadside bombing in Samawa. And in Baghdad, a car bomb killed five people and wounded 20 more. The blast happened in the Shi’ite Sadr City slum, a stronghold of anti-American cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr. He has echoed Kouchner’s calls for the United Nations to play a greater role in Iraq.